USFS firefighter pleads guilty to setting fire

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From KBZK:

A Forest Service employee and a 23-year-old man, both from Dillon, Montana have admitted to charges of lighting trees on fire in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

Kyle Lee Zimmerman, 23, and Christopher Erwin Clark, 26, pleaded guilty to the charge of damaging government property during a federal court session in Missoula on Tuesday.

According to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice, on Oct. 17, 2009, Zimmerman, Clark and “S.K.” lit and attempted to light trees on fire in the Black Mountain area of the Dillon Ranger District in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The trees were dead or dying due to pine beetle infestation.

Zimmerman and Clark are also accused of lighting trees on fire in the Birch Creek area on Oct.18, 2009.

Clark, who is currently employed with the Forest Service as a fire fighter, was a temporary employee in October 2009 and was involved in the suppression effort for the Birch Creek fires.

They each face possible penalties of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and one year supervised release.

Sentencing has been set for Jan. 5, 2011. They are currently released on special conditions.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.